Revelations: Persona, released in Japan as Megami Ibunroku Persona (女神異聞録ペルソナ Megami Ibunroku Perusona , lit. "Alternate Tale of the Goddess: Persona"), is the first game in the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona series of role-playing video games for PlayStation consoles—one of several spin-off series within the Megami Tensei franchise, developed by Atlus. The game was originally released on the PlayStation in Japan and North America; the Japanese version was later ported to Microsoft Windows. Set in contemporary Japan, Revelations: Persona stars a group of high-schoolers who, armed with weapons and imbued with magical beings known as Personas, band together to combat demons that are invading their city.
A remake of the game, titled Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable and known in Japan as simply Persona (ペルソナ Perusona ), was released for the PlayStation Portable in 2009. It was released in Japan on 29 April 2009, in North America on September 22, 2009 on UMD, and October 1, 2009 on the PlayStation Store as a downloadable title. The remake includes a redesigned user interface, new cutscenes, multiple difficulty levels, and an arranged soundtrack.
Unlike the Megami Tensei and Shin Megami Tensei games, the plot of Persona does not involve devil summoners. Instead, the main party consists of a group of teenagers equipped with firearms and melee weaponry. Each can summon a Persona—a facet of their personality—used in battle to fight demons, functioning as a source of magic spells, a traditional element of role-playing games.
In Revelations: Persona, the player navigates and interacts with the world via multiple means. While traversing the main city (which serves as the game's overworld), the world is seen from an overhead perspective. Unlike future entries in Persona series, buildings and maze-like outdoor areas are navigated in a first-person perspective. However, whenever the player enters a room, the camera shifts to an isometric perspective, allowing the player to interact with party members and other non-playable characters. Although Persona was among the first of the Megami Tensei games to feature angled third-person viewpoints, dungeons are still navigated in first-person. Both these vestiges of its parent series would be dropped in later Persona games. Another series trademark, an icon displaying the lunar phase, also appears in Persona. Besides showing the passage of in-game time, the status of the moon determines the activity patterns of enemy demons, and their mood if the player attempts negotiation with one.
Battles with enemy demons are triggered via random encounters; the game's turn-based battles are also carried out in a third-person view. Each party member occupies a space on a grid, which dictates which enemies they are within range to attack. Ranged weapons can travel far to hit an enemy, while melee attacks are only able to strike enemies close to the attacker. Like the player's characters, the enemies are also positioned in a grid; when the front-most enemies are defeated, the ones in the rear advance to take their place. Each character is able to attack with an equipped melee weapon or firearm, use an item, summon a Persona to cast a magic spell, or attempt to talk with the enemy.
In the spirit of past Megami Tensei games, in which players are able to recruit demons to fight with them, Revelations: Persona allows the player's party to negotiate with enemies to gain special items. During a battle, the player is able to Contact demons in an attempt to converse with them. Each character has their own set of four methods of communicating with a demon, such as insulting them, praising them, or singing to them. Based on the demon's personality, it would respond a specific way to certain actions. There are four emotional responses that the player can illicit from a demon: anger, fear, joy, and interest. Triggering one of these emotions three times will cause the demon to do something. An angry demon will attack the party; a frightened demon will flee the battle; a joyful demon will give the player an item; and an interested demon will either leave the battle, give the player an item, or give the player a special spell card, which can be used to create new Personas for the player's use.
Each character can be assigned up to three Personas, which grant the ability to use special abilities. A Persona has its own statistics which determine the proficiency in battle of the character it's assigned to. More powerful Personas can be acquired by fusing spell cards gained from enemy demons in the Velvet Room. These spell cards cannot be obtained by fighting demons, but instead require the player to communicate with them, a feature the game shares with games in the Megami Tensei series. In addition to letting the player request spell cards, contacting demons may bring about other positive results, such as avoiding combat or receiving items; communication may also bring about negative results, such as the demons performing a pre-emptive attack or stunning a character. Boss enemies or hostile humans cannot be communicated with during combat.
Snow Queen quest
An optional quest called the "Snow Queen Quest" was removed from the North American release, although the data for it is still contained within the disk. In this, the party opts not to pursue SEBEC and Guido, instead discovering a strange mask inside the school. When they present it to Ms. Smith, she tells them the legend of the Snow Queen. Trying on the mask, Ms. Smith is suddenly possessed by the spirit of the Snow Queen, and the school is transformed into a frozen maze with four towers erupting at the corners of the grounds. Feeling indebted to her teacher, Yuki resolves to save Ms. Smith, and remainder of the game will be different than if the player had continued with the main path. There are fragments of English text (mostly nonsensical English, such as "TIME UP! GAME OVER! LET'S TRY AGAIN!" in the middle of unreadable symbols) which suggest that Atlus made early attempts to translate the quest, ultimately deciding to cut it from the final release. The quest is still available via cheat devices such as the Gameshark. The PSP remake includes the Snow Queen quest in both the Japanese and North American versions.
The story of Persona revolves around the game's silent protagonist, named by the player at the start of the game, and his friends at St. Hermelin High School, located in the city of Lunarvale. While playing a ritual-like children's game called "Persona", each of the students are knocked unconscious. While asleep, they encounter a man named Philemon who bestows several Personae upon them. When they wake up, the youths discover they can summon Personas.
Meanwhile, Takahisa Kandori, head of the SEBEC corporation, has invented a machine to create and allow passage to an alternate dimension. This machine is somehow linked to the mind of Mary Sonomura, a frail, bedridden girl and close friend of the main character, who visits her often. During one such visit, the party members realize that the city is slowly changing; while it looks the same, it is cut off from the outside world and is being invaded by demons.
There are a total of nine playable characters in Persona. It is not possible to recruit all of them in one play-through; meeting the requirements necessary to acquire one party member may make others inaccessible. The character Yuki joins the party only briefly in the North American release of the game, but plays a larger role in the Snow Queen Quest, which is not available only in the original North American release.
Each of the playable characters in Persona is a student who attends the fictional St. Hermelin high school, and is granted through a ritual-like game the ability to summon Personas, manifestations of one's psyche which take on the form of various monsters, heroes and gods of mythology. The main character is a nameless boy and the silent protagonist of the game. Other party members include Maki Sonomura, a sick girl who mysteriously regains her health around the same time that demons invade the town; Masao Inaba, class clown and aspiring artist; Kei Nanjō (nicknamed Nanjō), pompous rich boy who is heir to the Nanjō Group; Hidehiko Uesugi, a narcissist who convinces the others characters to play "Persona" in the first place; Eriko Kirishima, daring adventurer and expert fencer; Yuka Ayase, popular girl and a heartbreaker with many admirers; Reiji Kido, enigmatic fighter with a prominent scar on his forehead; and Yukino Mayuzumi, a reformed gang member who mentors her fellow students.
The North American release of Revelations: Persona saw many cosmetic and technical changes. In order to suggest that the story takes place in a western nation, the names and profile pictures of several characters have been recolored and (at times) redrawn completely. The most dramatic changes are to the character Masao "Mark" Inaba, who was renamed to just "Mark", and, in addition to having his signature hat and makeup removed and replaced with a baseball cap, is changed from an Asian boy to an African American character with Ebonics added into his dialog. Another notable change is to the main protagonist: his face and hairstyle are completely redesigned. Both Nate and Ellen switch their hair colors from a dark shade of black to blonde.
Several measures were taken to erase references to Japan in this release. The names of each party member and of the town have been replaced with western-sounding names, while several Persona names were also changed, rather than translated, to be more generic rather than referencing local folklore.
There are also minor changes to the gameplay that are intended to reduce the overall difficulty of the game – there are, for example, fewer enemy encounters, and the amount of experience points gained from battles increases. In-game currency has been converted from yen to dollars, with the prices of items and equipment adjusted accordingly.
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- Official Persona PSP website
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- Summary of the Persona series at Hardcore Gaming 101
- 'Persona series at MobyGames
- Database of the Personae of Persona at digitaldevildb.com